The Love Butcher (1975)

THE LOVE BUTCHER (1975)
Article 3720 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-6-2011
Posting Date: 10-21-2011
Directed by Donald M. Jones and George Theakos
Featuring Erik Stern, Kay Neer, Jeremiah Beecher
Country: USA
What it is: Psycho killer movie

An ugly and crippled gardener has an alternate personality; he’s also a handsome ladies’ man who seduces and then kills his victims, usually women that have insulted his other personality. Will the police be able to catch him?

Between the sleazy title, the unpromising-sounding premise, and the fact that, according to one of my guides, it sat on the shelf for seven years before finally getting released in 1982 during the slasher era, I was expecting something pretty awful, and for about the first twenty minutes or so, I didn’t see anything that contradicted that expectation. It wasn’t until about the halfway mark, when the studly alter ego kills a victim he failed to seduce and then begins conjuring up an alternate reality in which he succeeded in his seduction, that I began to really take interest, as it begins tapping in to an unexpected complexity in the interplay between the two personalities. In some ways, it ends up being a very interesting variant of PSYCHO, one in which the explanation of the psychosis actually adds texture to the story rather than coming across as something thrown in at the last moment. Oh, it’s still pretty sleazy, and some of the killings are cruel and nasty, but that’s to be expected; what isn’t expected is some of the interesting story turns it all takes before it’s done. I ended up finding this one a lot more worthwhile than I expected it would be.

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La loba (1965)

LA LOBA (1965)
aka The She-Wolf
Article 3707 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-23-2011
Posting Date: 10-8-2011
Directed by Rafael Baledon
Featuring Kitty de Hoyos, Joaquin Cordero, Columba Dominguez
Country: Mexico
What it is : Werewolf movie

A female werewolf is on the loose terrorizing the community, and soon one of the victims who survived her attack also becomes a werewolf.

I found a copy of this one on Youtube, and though I’m not sure that it’s complete, it seems to be mostly there. It’s in Spanish without subtitles, but it’s one of those movies in which it doesn’t matter quite as much, as the talk is kept to a minimum. The movie even opens with a ten minute werewolf-on-the-loose sequence where barely a word is spoken. This movie is surprisingly effective; it is full of atmosphere, the attacks are surprisingly savage and bloody, and the makeup is creative. The werewolf makeup isn’t always effective in the close-ups, but it’s unique and creative in the longer shots, and whoever plays the female werewolf in these shot is incredibly athletic and does a fantastic job of capturing the feel of an unpredictable wild animal on the loose. The female werewolf is covered with patches of fur, but is otherwise naked, and the movie does play with this a bit in the transformation sequences. Even though the plot subtleties do get lost in the language, this was one of the more impressive Mexican horror films I’ve seen, and even those who have no patience with movies not translated into English would appreciate the first ten minutes.

The Live Ghost (1934)

THE LIVE GHOST (1934)
Short

Article 3580 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-14-2011
Posting Date: 6-3-2011
Directed by Charley Rogers
Featuring Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Walter Long
What it is: Laurel and Hardy short

A captain is having trouble getting a full crew for his ship due to the persistent rumors of its being haunted. He hires Stan and Ollie to help him shanghai some men, but soon they too end up aboard the ship.

Here’s a pretty good short from the boys. The first half has them engaged in the plot to shanghai the sailors, which involves a gag with an egg. The second half has them aboard the ship and mistakenly believing they’ve killed a man. My favorite bit has the boys explaining why they have no wish to be sailors. As for the fantastic content, there are no real ghosts in the movie, but there is a man mistaken for one.

The Living Idol (1957)

THE LIVING IDOL (1957)
Article 3550 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-11-2011
Posting Date: 5-4-2011
Directed by Rene Cardona and Albert Lewin
Featuring Steve Forrest, Lilane Montevecchi, James Robertson Justice
Country: USA / Mexico
What it is: Reincarnation and ancient curses

A young woman becomes the focus of a scientist fascinated by the history of human sacrifice who believes she might be the reincarnation of the victim of an ancient ritual involving sacrifice to a jaguar god… and he’s intent on testing his theory.

This movie sat on my hunt list for the longest time before a copy showed up. I’m very glad to have finally seen it; in some ways, it’s a variation on your basic “mad scientist” movie, only centered on reincarnation, superstition and ancient rituals. The end result is often fascinating; I’ve never really seen a story like this, and there are moments that are startlingly effective. Yet, for all that, the movie is a misfire; despite a fascinating story, it suffers from awkward and bizarre pacing, and its potentially scary scenes are badly ruined by an over-reliance on clumsy narration. I suspect that the problem may be that co-director Albert Lewin also wrote the novel on which the movie was based, and I found myself wondering if he just couldn’t let go of certain prose passages. Yet, between the fascinating characters and ideas, I firmly believe this could have been a classic. In my personal opinion, this is the type of movie that should be remade in the hopes that someone can circumvent the problems and make it work. As it is, I’m very glad to have seen it, but understand why the movie is rather difficult to find and appreciate.

Liebe, Tod und Teufel (1934)

LIEBE, TOD UND TEUFEL (1934)
aka Love, Death and the Devil
Article 3548 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-9-2011
Posting Date: 5-2-2011
Directed by Heinz Hilpert and Reinhart Steinbicker
Featuring Kathe von Nagy, Albin Skoda, Brigitte Horney
Country: Germany
What it is: Deal with the devil variation

A man buys a magic bottle that will grant him anything he wishes… but if he doesn’t sell it to someone for less than he paid, he will lose his soul.

I knew when I was going into this that I would be watching an unsubtitled German language film, so I was hoping to find a good plot description to help me sort it out. Alas, all I was able to find were some short plot descriptions with the above stated plot, but it’s not enough to sort out the subtleties of the story. I’m assuming that this is pretty late in the chain of affairs for this bottle, when the price is so low it would be next to impossible to sell the bottle for less. There’s some interesting scenes here and there that I’d like to find out more about; in particular, I wonder what the one man has on his back that frightens away his Oriental manservants. From what I can tell, the movie is mostly famous nowadays for having a classic song sung by Brigitte Horney.

Lion Man (1975)

LION MAN (1975)
aka Aslan Adam
Article 3522 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-12-2011
Posting Date: 4-6-2011
Directed by Natuk Baytan
Featuring Cuneyt Arkin, Barbara Lake, Charles Garret
Country: Turkey / UK
What it is: Turkish swashbuckler

When a king is overthrown by rebels, his son is left in the forest where he is raised by a pride of lions. When the usurper turns out to be a tyrant, the people wish to rebel against him, but they need to find the lost son to lead them. But the son has grown up as a wild man with lion-like strength in his hands.

This may be only the second Turkish movie I’ve seen for this series, but despite that, I’m not in unfamiliar territory; anybody who has seen a few martial arts and sword-and-sandal movies will find themselves in very familiar territory here. The highlight here is the freaky and frequently hilarious fight scenes that owe more to gymnastics than any real fighting technique; my favorite bit has the lion man battling villains while doing spins on a pole. I guess every culture needs its own goofy, over-the-top action movies. It’s energetic, silly, and quite entertaining.

The Lost Planet (1953)

THE LOST PLANET (1953)
Serial
Article 3487 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-26-2011
Posting Date: 3-2-2011
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet
Featuring Judd Holdren, Vivian Mason, Michael Fox
Country: USA
What it is: Science fiction serial

The evil Dr. Grood discovers a planet with a rare mineral that can give him the power to conquer the world. Can reporter Rex Barrow defeat him and rescue Grood’s hostage, Professor Dorn, who is being forced to help him in his evil schemes?

The IMDB rating of this serial is a lowly 4.6, which is no surprise for a serial made when the genre was on its last legs in the mid-fifties. And, truth to tell, it is a fairly lame serial. However, I’m feeling generous enough to say I more or less enjoyed this one. Maybe it’s because it’s an actual honest-to-goodness science fiction serial with rocket ships, an alien planet and amazing inventions rather than being mostly an action-adventure flick with one or two small Gizmo Maguffins, which is what I usually get. Maybe it’s because it actually looks like almost all of the footage used was actually shot for this serial and not lifted from another older one, which is actually pretty rare for this time. And maybe it’s because the serial has the good sense to put its comic relief character in a hypnotic trance that keeps him from cracking wise during most of the running time. This may make up a little for the fact that the alien planet looks like Vazquez rocks for the most part, that the aliens look and dress like Arabs, and that the evil Dr. Grood can’t make up his mind to kill Professor Dorn or keep him alive. Or that most of the cliffhangers are fairly lame, even if it avoids bailouts. Or maybe it’s because I’m nearing the end of covering this type of thing and don’t want to go out on a sour note. Besides, this serial has some of the most entertaining chapter titles I’ve ever enjoyed.